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A letter from Tess

Tess Vigeland shares a few observations after hosting Marketplace Money for six years.

If you'll indulge me for a moment or two, I'd like to share a few personal observations.

This is my penultimate hour of Marketplace Money. As we mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I'm leaving after six years hosting this show, 11 years at Marketplace. Next week is our special partnership with the New York Times, so this is my last chance to say a few other words before goodbye.

I never imagined I'd host a show about personal finance for a couple of reasons. First, I've always been terrible with money. And second, I've always been terrible with money. Astute listeners will have already picked up on that. I've learned a lot just by hosting this show, though. Six years of daily immersion in one subject? Well, I should be making better choices just by osmosis. And I do -- not always, but certainly more than I used to.

I learned a lot about money from you. Many of you are way smarter about money than I am -- I can see that in the emails you send in after hearing our call-in segments. I often wished we'd had you on the line to help another listener. But unfortunately, most of our mail is the opposite. So many of you are in pain because of money. You're baffled by it, you're afraid of it and you don't want anyone to know. Because god forbid we talk openly about our money issues.

Now here is where I could insert a bunch of the usual personal finance bromides. Spend less than you earn. Save all you can for retirement. Stick to a budget. Sure -- all those are important. But after six years of dispensing financial advice or at least being in the room when we gave that advice, it really comes down to one thing: choices. And there's almost nothing more personal in our lives than the choices we make.

So no radio show, no blog, no book is going to be able to do that for you. And the system today demands so many more financial choices from all of us. We have to manage our own retirement accounts. We have to save enormous sums for college. We pay a far bigger chunk of our health care bills. We're really on our own -- and we're terrified we're not going to have enough. So we take risks with our money that we probably shouldn't. So if you need help, find an adviser and pay for an hour or two of help. Or try out Dave or Suze if you like. Or start with tutorials on the government's consumer financial protection website. The resources are endless, so do as much as you can to educate yourself. And then... give yourself a break.

If you look back at your financial life so far -- you probably did a few things you wish you hadn't. Welcome to my world! But we got through it, right? Or we're working to get there? So give yourself a break.

And while you're at it, give everybody else a break. Lots of people made lots of mistakes over the last few years with mortgages, with overspending, with trying to time the stock market. But that doesn't mean they deserve a lesser life when they wake up to the consequences of those choices. Maybe, just maybe, it's on all of us to have a little more compassion for the mistakes and the struggle.

It's been an honor. It's been a privilege. And I will miss all of YOU more than you could possibly ever know.

About the author

Tess Vigeland is the host of Marketplace Money, where she takes a deep dive into why we do what we do with our money.
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Tess - Over the past few years, you have become a part of our family and we shall miss our weekend visits. The advice you brought to so many people, shared in a manner of humility, sincerity, and welcome humor has been a precious gift to us all. Thank you.

Tess,

I am so sorry to hear that you are leaving. I will miss you candor, wit and caring interviewing skills. You have made personal finance an approachable subject for so many. Thank you for teaching me and so many others.
I wish you the best in all of your future endeavors.

Be well,
Joe

NOOO!!! I'm SO sad to hear that you'll be leaving the show! I'm a religious listener and always look forward to it, not only for the interesting topics and advice, but mostly because I love your personality, wit, and compassionate attitude. You are part of the reason I am financially secure, even after being unemployed for 3 months! You are a huge asset to the show, and will be greatly missed. Thanks for all your work!

Amy

Tess Vigeland has me listening to matters of money the way Tom and Ray have me listening to matters automotive. I have never had a strong or even mild interest in cars or finances but as I approach retirement age, with no end of work in sight, it's time, for at least a mild interest in the latter, anyway. "A Letter from Tess" really spoke to me. There is altogether too much shame associated with being "bad" with money.

Tess, I will miss you so much! I have been a regular listener for at least 5 years and feel you have become a trusted friend. Your candor and humor so appreciated in these difficult times. I have learned so much from my Saturdays with you and Marketplace Money. Thank you! May your future be bright. Play more piano and keep loving the animals!!

If I may, I am an accountant, I've always been OK with money. So if I may let me speak from the heart.............
What Tess has taught me is that money is the means to an end. A complicated struggle with allies and foes . . . and more importantly. . . something that requires a deep reconciliation within ourselves that each of us must overcome on our own terms. I never got the chance to ask all the questions I should have, none of us did. But what I did get from her is a tenured deep seeded notion that so small is the sense fair wisdom; so undervalued is the advice that our own good decisons, our tenuous faith in the the ability of all to create will be rewarded and we will do better than we could have possibly imagined.

The truth is that if Tess taught us anything it is that we have the capabilities that we are smart enough, driven enough, and worthy enough to reach beyond all the borders that we imagined actually existed in our lives.

If you read this rant you already bought in...Our challenge, mission, and creed is to bring those who doubt into our fold. To seek those who see only who see darkness and give them a glimpse of the light. To find only those who tread water and make them see that dry land awaits their sacrifices. We cannot do it alone but we must, as a community, show others that the long seemingly endless road to independence not only has benefits for themselves but for generations to follow.

Call me estranged from reality, I will not deny; but we must plow forward; we must find those who not only seek the proverbial grail of independence ; but our true calling it to make it so all can find that grail so it is never holy, rare, or even uncommon, but just another part of the human experience.

Thank you Tess, you were a sage of our time, we wish you the best.

Good Luck to you Tess. I will miss having breakfast with you every Saturday morning. I've enjoyed the program and having you as a host. I hope you are not giving up your radio career. Much love to you. Robb

Tess - It's been a pleasure listening to your soothing, familiar voice on Marketplace Money over the past several years. You've asked questions I would like to have asked, and I've learned a lot along the way. I truly hope that your next steps serve you well, and that I'll be hearing or seeing you again soon! Best of luck on your next adventure!

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